HONG KONG: The Asia-Pacific telecommunications market is seeing a dramatic change in the business landscape as players look for opportunities in new technologies like Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6).
The recent Asia-Pacific Wholesale Telecommunications Congress here has identified some of the profitable investment opportunities in the region via VoIP and IPV6.
Calvin Lee, vice president (Asia-Pacific and Middle East) of Deutsche Telekom, said IPV6, which supports greater capacity in web-based business, would be the future of the Internet, replacing the current IPV4.
The widespread use of business over the Internet has created tremendous demand for Internet addresses (network address to identify and communicate on a computer network), he said.
IPV6, which supports a greater number of IP addresses to meet future demand of Internet-capable devices, is touted as the mainstream of future technology. It is the backbone or foundation for the growth of personal computers (PC) and non-PC digital devices, entertainment and communication devices.
VoIP is another revolutionary technology in the telecommunications age that is poised to take over traditional communications over the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
VoIP, which runs on broadband Internet, allows tremendous opportunities in cost savings for overseas voice calls and management of calls between mobile and fixed phone lines as well as teleconferencing.
“Every digital device on the planet needs to have an IP address. Most of these devices will be sufficiently powerful to incorporate a VoIP client, allowing a voice call to be made from almost any digital device,” said Lee, stressing the importance of IPV6 as a complementary support for VoIP.
Although VoIP telecommunication still has many hiccups, such as unreliability in power transmission and quality of voice as compared to old-fashioned analogue telephone lines, it is still the core technology in voice communications, especially for long-distance overseas calls and IP-based telecommunications among large corporations.
Internet Protocol, a method by which data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet, would open up new uses for voice, but it would also affect revenues in the traditional voice markets, said Lee.
This major shift is expected to result in increased pressure on service providers to find new non-voice applications for revenue and differentiation, he said.
Although VoIP may presently not have good voice quality, efforts are being vigorously pursued to ensure that it eventually matches landline telephone calls.
For instance, networking-based Cisco recently announced its voice-ready wireless capabilities, building upon the widespread adoption of VoIP, and WiFi or wireless networks.
Avaya, another major network provider and supplier of IP telephony systems, is also working on solutions to allow connectivity between the VoIP phones and mobile phones.
VoIP is gaining in its effort to become a mainstream communication channel with the widespread used of Skype, which allows free calls on the computer-to-computer network.
Another VoIP service provider, Vonage, offers cost-effective communication and provides users an experience similar to traditional telephone service. Vonage is available in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.
William Wai, vice president (marketing and customer services) of Hong Kong-based HKCOLO, said China was expected to see the future growth in development of VoIP services.
“Hong Kong could be a stepping stone to China with the setting up of a Point of Presence (point between communications entities) in Hong Kong where connecting to various China-based carriers are available,” he said.
The evolving wholesale commercial opportunities of the telecommunications industry has inspired many players to look for markets with high growth potential such as China. Some are also on the lookout for acquisition opportunities to strengthen their regional presence.
Telekom Malaysia, for instance, has embarked on an investment strategy on emerging markets with growth potential and high traffic in voice and data.
Its vice president of Global Business, TM Wholesale, Zaini Diman, said the rapid deregulation in the market has opened up opportunities for TM’s expansion in the region.
But deregulation has also posed challenges like competition from established global carriers with large managed global networks, market and technology.
“Players are also experiencing price erosion or reduced margins due to rapidly declining prices and changing consumer preferences, Zaini said.
Wayne Churchill, chief executive officer of Vanco NetDirect, an Internet sales portal of UK-based Vanco, said the challenges apparent in current networks are to have connections over wide geographies at a competitive cost. – Bernama
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